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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

Updated October 5, 2020 1.2m votes 67.1k voters 772.8k views1.3k items

List RulesOnly fictional characters created for television programs

List of TV's most memorable characters, of all time, chosen by the Ranker community. What makes a character live on in the public's memory, even years after the original run of their respective TV programs? In some cases, it's the amount of depth that the show's writers, actors and other creators were able to bring to the character over the course of many years. For many of the greatest TV characters of all time, audiences feel like they get to know personalities like Dexter Morgan from "Dexter." Even after the show leaves the air, they may not want that relationship to end. (Thankfully, they don't have to, as many shows live on for years after their cancellation on DVD and in syndication.) The best TV characters are ones that you feel like you know and that you'd want to be friends with.

TV has brought many famous characters to life who have been extremely compelling, even if they are not entirely likeable. Viewers may not wish to know dangerous, shadowy figures like Tony Soprano, Vernon Schillinger, and Omar Little in reality, but following their exploits safely from the comfort of your living room can be appealing. Likewise, people who might be aloof or downright unpleasant in real life - think "Mad Men's" Don Draper or Al Swearengen of "Deadwood" - can prove charming, even admirable, when seen at a distance, with the subtext and intricacy that a top long-running TV show can provide.

Who is the greatest TV character ever? This list contains the names of the greatest, most fascinating, and most enduring fictional characters from TV of all time. Be sure to vote for your favorites, and if some of your favorite popular characters aren't represented, go ahead and re-rank the list to contribute to the discussion.
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  • 26
    Sheldon Cooper
    8,323
    7,573

    Sheldon Cooper

    The Big Bang Theory
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  • 27
    Barney Stinson
    6,395
    4,831

    Barney Stinson

    How I Met Your Mother
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  • 28
    Eddard Stark
    4,322
    3,817

    Eddard Stark

    Game of Thrones
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  • 29
    Daenerys Targaryen
    4,905
    4,504

    Daenerys Targaryen

    Game of Thrones
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  • 30
    Ron Swanson
    3,939
    3,090

    Ron Swanson

    Parks and Recreations
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  • 31
    Daffy Duck
    2,370
    1,913
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    #22 of 405 The Funniest TV Characters of All Time#4 of 81 The Best Bird Characters In Cartoons And Comics

  • 32
    Joker
    2,692
    1,886

    Joker

    Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman: The Animated Series
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  • 33
    Mr. Bean
    5,259
    4,816

    Mr. Bean

    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean
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  • 34
    Frasier Crane
    3,059
    2,803

    Frasier Crane

    Frasier, Cheers
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  • 35
    Wonder Woman
    1,734
    1,421

    Wonder Woman

    Justice League Unlimited, Wonder Woman
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  • 36
    Radar O'Reilly
    1,580
    1,354

    Radar O'Reilly

    W*A*L*T*E*R
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  • 37
    Barney Fife
    2,413
    2,260

    Barney Fife

    The Joey Bishop Show, The New Andy Griffith Show
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  • 38
    Alex P. Keaton
    1,644
    1,535

    Alex P. Keaton

    Family Ties
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  • 39
    Eric Cartman
    5,835
    5,423

    Eric Cartman

    South Park
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  • 40
    Rachel Green
    3,160
    2,863

    Rachel Green

    Friends, Reinventando Hollywood
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  • 41
    Jerry Seinfeld
    5,260
    4,840
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  • 42
    Data
    2,479
    2,260

    Data

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: First Contact
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  • 43
    Wile E. Coyote
    2,449
    1,848

    Wile E. Coyote

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  • 44
    Al Bundy
    4,660
    4,410

    Al Bundy

    Married... With Children
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    #591 of 737 The Most Annoying TV and Film Characters Ever#15 of 177 The Most Likeable TV Anti-Heroes

  • 45
    Dean Winchester
    3,918
    3,331

    Dean Winchester

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural
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  • 46
    Daryl Dixon
    4,066
    3,520

    Daryl Dixon

    The Walking Dead
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  • 47
    Sheriff Andy Taylor
    2,962
    2,855

    Sheriff Andy Taylor

    The Andy Griffith Show, Return to Mayberry
    The Andy Griffith Show
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  • 48
    Buffy Summers
    6,470
    6,324

    Buffy Summers

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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  • 49
    Morticia Addams
    2,903
    2,527

    Morticia Addams

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values
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  • 50
    Sophia Petrillo
    3,056
    2,839

    Sophia Petrillo

    Golden Girls
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